- Associated Press - Thursday, July 3, 2014

LAS VEGAS (AP) - Rules passed by the Las Vegas City Council to restrict packaged liquor sales at the Fremont Street Experience will stand, despite ardent opposition from the souvenir stores that sell it.

Chief U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro dissolved a temporary injunction Wednesday that had blocked restrictions on alcohol advertisements in store windows and capped the size of malt liquor or beer containers at 32 ounces. She also declined to block a third ordinance, which prohibits glass bottles and aluminum cans at the pedestrian mall.

“It’s not for the court to substitute its wisdom for the wisdom of the City Council,” she said.

The council has been clamping down on store-bought liquor and steering people toward more expensive casino and restaurant liquor, saying people getting drunk on cheap liquor are starting fights and scaring away visitors.

But representatives of the souvenir stores in the tourist attraction say the casinos bear responsibility for drunk patrons, too. Jeff Silvestri, an attorney defending Souvenir Super Mart, brought in giant novelty alcohol containers sold by casino bars, including a 50-ounce container shaped like a woman’s leg.

“The city scratches its head for five or six years and says, ‘I wonder why there’s so much drinking on Fremont Street. We can’t figure it out,’” Silvestri said. “The solution comes from casinos. And what’s the casinos’ solution? Packaged liquor is your problem. If we could just get rid of packaged liquor.”

City Attorney Brad Jerbic argued that shops are more heavily regulated because they don’t hold the tavern licenses that most casinos and bars do.

The shops “bargained for packaged liquor (licensing). They did not bargain for tavern (licensing),” Jerbic said. “That’s like Albertsons coming in here, saying, ‘I want people to drink in my parking lot.’”

He also said the Fremont Street Experience’s operational costs are paid by private businesses, and incentives are given to those that contribute significantly to the area.

The council is considering even more restrictions, including rules that require packaged liquor to remain sealed in a bag if it’s brought onto the pedestrian mall.



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